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Google Updates and SERP Changes - December 2017

     
9:00 pm on Nov 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 4 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4874973.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 10:29 pm on Dec 1, 2017 (PDT -8)


Now I am seeing some light at the end of the tunnel I have a ton things that need doing, writing content, social media, more backlinks but can't seem to get focussed... I end up on some wikipedia journey or writing cr@p in forums, I saw a video on youtube called "How to stop Procrastinating", I clicked Watch it Later
6:36 pm on Dec 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Nov/Dec are our slowest months. It's kind of nice, while many are dealing with the holiday shopping madness we are relaxing and doing site maintenance/updates and vacations. All of our major site changes roll out this time of year.
7:17 pm on Dec 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Nov/Dec have traditionally been our slowest months, but not this year. November was a record month and December is looking epic.
7:33 pm on Dec 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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My major site is most definitely seasonal both in page views and earnings.

Same here. And that's been true for us since the '90s.
8:56 pm on Dec 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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No,
When a season is slow the pie is shared differently. What it has been agreed it has been agreed and still goes to the favourite dogs.

The traffic will drop for sure by 50% or so but for the rest of us it will probably drop by 90% which means that the many of us will share only about half of the pie.

But I guess I am just getting philosophical and do not understand these complex algorithms very well.
3:07 pm on Dec 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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My non seasonal site that never fluctuates unless its an actual holiday dropped 30% of it's traffic yesterday Dec 12. The site received 260,000 visitors in november. Crawl stats aren't in yet for yesterday and no messages from search console so it must be a algo dance. Maybe niche specific for me. Anyone see flux on a large site yesterday?
1:48 am on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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My site has been bleeding rankings in the past 4 months or so. At first it was just steady 1-3% drop comparing to previous week. However, since mid November it was like 10-15% drop comparing to previous week. During my career as SEO consultant I successfully helped big companies (with sites that have 1,000,000 pages) to troubleshoot and resolve quite complex technical issues. With my site - I have no clue... I have just 500 pages, no complex technical issues, strong link profile (in the past few months I got natural links from Washington Post and Buzzfeed and whole bunch of lower quality links from sites that find my site in Google), my content is 4-5000 words on average and of VERY high quality supported by links to research.

I've fixed all issues and even switched to SSL (which I didn't see point to do before, but now I need to eliminate all possible reasons). The funny part is that one of my client's site is starting to beat my main site... And on my client's site I do just 15-20% of content and link building comparing to my main site....

However, I have to mention that in the past 2 years, my site has been growing like crazy. I check sites that I considered huge authorities when I started this project, and their SEMRush stats are much worse than mine. So maybe Google just putting me down slightly for growing too fast.... I don't know. I have no idea what is going on.
5:00 am on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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My Site also dropped approx. 25% on 12 December. No seasonal content.
7:06 am on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Massive drop from Tuesday onwards. SERPS for our keywords are all over the place with multiple duplicates. Likewise seen a steady decline since September. We're essentially back to traffic levels in June 2016. Hope Google stops messing around soon!

We're an entertainment news site with amp, Good backlink and ssl.
7:29 am on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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We implemented SSL more than two years ago. No AMP.
We are in niche "saving money" and have some successful books in bookstores and on amazon.
Two discoveries:
- Ranking drop approx. 25-30%
- We had 300.000 visits in november
- found 10.000 links form 5 casino-domains and disavoed them yesterday; but don't think that its related to the links
- slight ranking drop since september. The number of indexed pages increased by 2x since septembert We did not change anything -> regarding to our canonicals and noindex-settings there should be only 8.000 pages in the index. But there are 25.000.
3:22 pm on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Like others, I had a major drop in Google organic traffic on Tuesday. A page that has ranked #1 for years went down to #9. It was replaced by outdated articles on major sites that had far less relevance. Other highly ranked pages dropped as well.
3:45 pm on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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We've been down noticeably (though not drastically) since December 12, too, with no obviously discernible pattern: Some of our most popular pages are doing better than ever, but others have slipped.

I can't help wondering if this has something to do with Google Analytics. Wasn't there a GA change last year that impacted reported traffic for a lot of sites?
4:00 pm on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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35% drop on my main site starting December 11 (same day my mother passed away). Many pages that ranked top three for years.dropped five to ten positions. Some pages no rank drop.
4:09 pm on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I have to add that I have obediently studied and followed all of the rules that Google imposes as well as expert advice for many years. I'm also a loyal AdWords advertiser. This is baffling and frustrating.
4:11 pm on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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My article which is 'highly cited' according to Google News is neither in Top Stories nor the normal search :(
5:23 pm on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I think google is trying to capitalize on the holiday season by forcing us to use the AdWords. Any thoughts.
5:47 pm on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I'm not that cynical. I just believe this algorithm update has messed with smaller sites.
6:03 pm on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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We've also experienced a noticeable drop across our sites on or around December 12th. Like some of you sites which have held the top spot for keywords for several years have dropped 5 or 6 places in the rankings and have been replaced with low quality sites.
7:01 pm on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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On one search result where I went from #2 to #9. The top three spots are now from the same site.The funny thing is (or not so funny) they have a featured snippet in #1 spot and the image in the snippet is taken from my site. So if you click on the image, then click visit site it takes you to my article.
7:03 pm on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Sorry Breeks, I actually laughed at your observation. That's crazy.
7:18 pm on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I'm also seeing multiple spots occupied by 1 site above mine. It always happened but its now more predominant since December 12. Granted my site is an affiliate site and the site now dominating the high positions is not. So google is clearly figuring out how to penalize for-profit affiliate sites. Which is fine because I will still get plenty of traffic being in positions 7-10. However, google giving 1 site multiple listings is a bad user experience. Google is so desperate to push down affiliate sites they are sending users to random pages on 1 site.
7:27 pm on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Breeks, I have the same situation with Google taking my images for someone else's snippet text.

Penitentman, I have no affiliate content. So I suspect other factors are pushing down certain sites.
7:27 pm on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I don't think its affiliate related.
I can see 6! results from one single page on positions 1-6. Strong brand site.
8:18 pm on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@scottb are your sites monetized with ads or monetized at all? mozcast shows heavy volatility yesterday. Nothing crazy on Algoroo but I definitely think a content related update occurred around December 11-12. Giving- authority, big brand, and not for profit sites priority. When comparing this week with last week hourly in GA the biggest disparities and drops are during daytime hours. I'm down 25-35% daytime and 10-20% overnight hours. Anyone else see that? My conversion rate has also been cut in half since the update. Lots of zombies telling me the serps are in flux and google is gathering data. I see this after every significant traffic drop.
8:41 pm on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I think google is trying to capitalize on the holiday season by forcing us to use the AdWords. Any thoughts.

If that were the case, wouldn't the algorithm change affect commerce sites but not information sites? (Information sites hardly ever buy AdWords.)
9:03 pm on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Well seems to be up and down like a yoyo but mainly I am up, information tanked but the commercial side is compensating. These results don't seem very stable though maybe it's an update. Personally I don't think Google have a clue what they want in SERPS themselves so just keep boosting brand authority no matter content or quality of the page.
9:23 pm on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@seoskunk My blog competes with institutional sites that literally have no content and overall bad quality. Or really old content. Google has figured out that the crap institutional sites I complete with should rank higher than my affiliate site with fresh content, better navigation, mobile friendly, faster load time etc etc. Google is so hell bent on killing affiliate sites I see 2 broken pages ranking above me. If they see an affiliate link or monetization of any kind the site gets penalized. Google might not have a clue overall but they definitely are dead set on hurting affiliates. They expect people to build websites out of the kindness of their hearts without the intent of making money or just a brand site for awareness about a physical product or opinion.
9:43 pm on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Google is so hell bent on killing affiliate sites I see 2 broken pages ranking above me. If they see an affiliate link or monetization of any kind the site gets penalized.


I don't know exactly when we allowed Google to dictate the web instead of indexing it. I think it was about the time they started inventing code like "nofollow", I preferred the web when Google didn't dictate what you can and can't do and left the code to the W3c. Nofollow is a joke, a link is a link to the user, no one cares if its affiliate, nofollow or normal. If Google were at all concerned with the user they would highlight affiliate or nofollow in a different colour but it appears that their only concern is their link based algorithm. Affiliate sites are an alternative form of advertising to Google, to penalise is a conflict of interest.
9:47 pm on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Penitentman, my sites are 100% AdSense. And the revenue has completely dried up as well.

"Giving- authority, big brand, and not for profit sites priority." That makes sense and fits with what I see in the rankings. Content relevance doesn't seem to matter much.
10:32 pm on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Affiliate sites are an alternative form of advertising to Google, to penalise is a conflict of interest.

Google doesn't penalize or otherwise downrank pages of useful, original content that have affiliate links. Information sites with affiliate links can do very well in Google.

"Thin affiliate sites" are a different story. Anyone who remembers the bad old days of 15 years ago, when the SERPs were crowded with boilerplate affiliate pages, can understand why search engines aren't eager to offer a free ride to "pure play" affiliate marketers in 2017. (Do Web users really need 100,000 copies of the same Amazon dot com or Booking dot com page showing up every time they search on a toaster, a laptop, or a hotel?)
11:48 pm on Dec 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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"Thin affiliate sites" are a different story.


Interesting, so you don't mind "other" thin content appearing in search just affiliate ? I posted an example the other day about a Lorem Ipsum page ranking in the top ten now we have a multitude of thin content from so called trusted domains. Just because they ain't affiliate doesn't make them any less garbage. Isn't it time Google considered the user and stopped designing algorithms for their own financial benefit.
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